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Bennie Moten Orchestra
Author: 
Jason Roe

On September 23, 1923, the Bennie Moten Orchestra made its first recording consisting of eight songs. By strict musical standards, the songs themselves were unrefined and not much removed from existing blues music. But the Bennie Moten Orchestra would soon build upon its earliest recordings to develop a distinct Kansas City style of jazz that later dominated the jazz scene in the late 1930s and 1940s.

Autographed program cover of The Wheezer: Souvenir Issue, with signatures of Bennie and Bus Moten, Eddie Durham, Oran Page, no date. Source: Ida Minturn.

Photograph of Bennie Moten’s Orchestra at Pearl Theatre in Philadelphia, PA, 1931. Pictured from left: Jimmy Rushing, vocals; Hot Lips Page, trumpet; Willie McWashington, drums; Booker Washington, trumpet; Ed Lewis, trumpet; Count Basie, piano; Buster Moten, accordian; Leroy "Buster" Berry, banjo; Thamon Hayes, trombone; Bennie Moten, piano; Harland Leonard, reeds; Eddie Durham, trombone; Jack Washington, reeds; Vernon Page, tuba; Woodie Walder, reeds.

Date: 
1931

Circa 1931 photograph of the Bennie Moten Orchestra posed in front of the Fairyland Park stage at the southeast corner of Prospect Avenue and 75th Street. Pictured in bottom row are Count Basie, Hot Lips Page, Ed Lewis, Eddie Durham, Woodie Walder, Leroy Berry, Harlan Leonard, and Jack Washington (second, third fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and twelfth from left, respectively). Top row, from left are Bennie Moten, Bus Moten, and James Rushing.

Date: 
1931

10" 78-rpm recording of "South", an instrumental fox trot by Bennie Moten and Thamon Hayes, performed by Oran "Hot Lips" Page And His Band. Members include Don Stovall, Don Byas, Eddie Barefield, saxophones and clarinet; Oran "Hot Lips" Page, trumpet; Pete Johnson, piano; John Collins, guitar; Abe Bolar, bass; A. G. Godley, drums. Matrix number: 68335A; Catalog number: 18124 A.

Date: 
November 11th 1940

10" 78-rpm recording of "Toby", a fox trot by Buster Moten and Eddie Barefield, performed by Bennie Moten and his Orchestra. Members include Count Basie, piano; Oran "Hot Lips” Page, trumpet; Walter Page, bass; Eddie Durham, guitar. Matrix and catalog number: B-10259-B.

Date: 
December 13th 1932

10" 78-rpm recording of "Moten’s Swing", a fox trot by Buster Moten and Bennie Moten, performed by Bennie Moten and his Orchestra. Members include Count Basie, piano; Oran "Hot Lips” Page, trumpet; Walter Page, bass; Eddie Durham, guitar. Matrix and catalog number: B-10259-A.

Date: 
December 13th 1932
KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.